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WSU Health Sciences launches Spinout Space in Spokane (sp³nw)

A researcher works in a laboratory
Graduate student Brena Thompson works in a laboratory at the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus.

SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington State University announced today the official launch of Spinout Space in Spokane (sp³nw), a new life sciences incubator designed to build and grow start-up companies.

Coinciding with the launch, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation pledged its support for sp3nw with a $250,000 anchor grant. This initial investment allows sp3nw to begin incubating WSU research and innovation into biotech, pharma, diagnostics, and medical device companies, while also connecting regional entrepreneurs with WSU faculty expertise.

“There is long unmet need in the state of Washington for an entity like sp3nw to identify, support, incubate and accelerate early-stage life science and health care companies,” said Glenn Prestwich, WSU President’s Distinguished Professor, and director of sp3nw. “With Bank of America support and commitment to creating economic advancement across the state, sp3nw can now begin to spin out companies from WSU technologies, while also connecting emerging life sciences companies to WSU researchers and experts.”

With its extensive networks of affiliates and mentors, sp3nw offers something truly unique to WSU and community bio-entrepreneurs. The collaborative program makes it as easy as possible to commercialize discovery and invention. The resulting products will catalyze global health care innovation, while also driving economic and job growth in the region.

The Bank of America funding is the largest anchor grant the company has made in Eastern Washington. The grants are intended to advance economic mobility by supporting nonprofit organizations serving education and workforce, community development and basic needs.

Ahmed lab group (from left) Mahamudul (Maha) Haque, Salah-uddin Ahmed, and Anil Singh study the expression pattern of a protein identified to play an important role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.

So far this year, Bank of America has deployed more than $830,000 to 32 local organizations across Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho to address basic community and health needs, in addition to the bank’s $1 billion, four-year initiative to advance racial equality and economic opportunity.

“If nothing else, the health and humanitarian crisis brought on by coronavirus illustrates the importance of health care innovation. This investment represents our confidence in sp3nw’s mission to provide vital support for local entrepreneurs and researchers bringing life-changing technologies to market,” said Kurt Walsdorf, Bank of America Spokane and Idaho market president. “At Bank of America, we believe this innovative incubator model will help foster economic growth that further anchors Eastern Washington’s prominence in in our state’s fast-growing health care industry while creating sustainable, local, high-wage jobs.”

This ties to the foundational land-grant mission of WSU and its health sciences campus, where service to the community is bolstered by students’ access to life-changing education and research. These future physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and researchers then bring the benefits of innovation to the health care needs of the citizens of Washington.

“Bank of America’s generosity and support is enhancing quality of life and economic vitality, while also aligning with our efforts to foster learning, inquiry, and public service,” said Daryll DeWald, WSU Health Sciences vice president and chancellor. “We’re excited about others following in Bank of America’s footsteps and coming forward in our shared pursuit to support education and research that results in broad societal impact.”

Additional sp3nw funding will allow the incubator to address critical entrepreneurial gaps throughout the state of Washington and in the life sciences sector. The incubator affords opportunity for innovators to engage with nearly three dozen affiliated consultants, investor groups and service providers, as well as a mentor network comprised of nearly two dozen experienced entrepreneurs. Assistance offered to entrepreneurs includes grant preparation and submission, operational and intellectual property support, and legal and marketing services.

Ignite NW
The building currently known as Ignite NW will soon transform to sp3nw, in brand and purpose.

Also, through sp3nw, entrepreneurs have access to office and lab space adjacent to the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus. The building currently known as Ignite NW will soon transform to sp3nw, in brand and purpose. Satellite sp3nw sites are also forthcoming on WSU’s other campuses in Washington (Pullman, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Everett). sp3nw also boasts cooperative MOUs with Boise State University, University of Montana, University of Idaho, and North Idaho College to broaden the outreach and impact of WSU technology in the region.

Concluded Prestwich, “Together with the University and partners such as Bank of America, we can help reduce the complexities that arise with going from the bench, to business, to product. It’s a paradigm that we see transforming the industry in the greater Spokane region, the Inland Northwest and beyond.”

For those interested in being an sp3nw affiliate or mentor, entrepreneur, or investor, visit sp3nw.org.

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